With all the negatives happening in the world, there is one good: democratisation. But, what do I mean by that?
The root word, democracy, originates from the Greek, δημοκρατία (dēmokratiā) — dēmos, meaning ‘people’ and Kratos, meaning ‘rule’. In his Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln provides an excellent definition: “of the people, by the people, for the people”.
Aside from political terminology, technology in the form of the internet is a disruptive force. Already reducing barriers to access, now anyone can have a voice, and in the future, removal of autocracy.
Web 1.0 — The Beginning
Magazines, television, and radio held a monopoly on creative content. Only particular individuals could broadcast off these platforms—the same with buying products and education. Only certain entities could sell these products or create educative material.
At the beginning of modern time (I’m talking about the internet), “Web 1.0” removed the barrier to access. Anyone with an internet connection could have access to news articles, shopping items, or learning material from anywhere in the world.
However, even with improved access, there is still a central source of “truth”.
Web 2.0 — The Now
“Web 2.0” introduces us to the creator economy. Platforms exist for anyone to create content, sell their products and educate others. These platforms include:
The list goes on.
Reading this newsletter is a good example. My voice is free. I — or anyone — can broadcast my ideas for the entire world to access.
However, we are still relying on the centralised power to control these platforms. We can read. We can create. But, a higher power still holds the platform.
Web 3.0 — The Future
I say “Web 3.0” is the future, but Bitcoin introduced this notion over a decade ago.
The keyword here is decentralisation — there is no central authority.
One good example is decentralised finance or DeFi.
Typically, governments commission a bank to act as a centralised authority for money. For example, the Reserve Bank of New Zealand tenders the banknote for the New Zealand Government.
In reality, technology turned the physical notes into intangible bytes on interconnected servers. Banks control, and approved Government organisations audit these servers.
Now technology is further disrupting the playing field with cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Etheruem.
Instead of a ledger, or list of transactions, held on a private, centralised server. The idea is that this ledger is distributed among anyone connected to Bitcoin, Ethereum or whatever cryptocurrency network — contained in a blockchain.
Cryptocurrency is trust-less, solely relying on mathematics to determine if transactions are legitimate. A single person cannot manipulate the ledger since this is compared among the majority of ledgers on the network.
As long as the public gives cryptocurrency value, then this can be used as a form of legitimate currency replacing the money provided by and controlled by governments.
Will this take off? Possibly not in developed countries, where the local governments are somewhat non-corrupt. Cryptocurrency may be useful in those countries that do not have such a stable currency nor trustworthy government.
Additionally, Ethereum defines smart contracts. A use case is defining ownership of digital art. In the future, could we see land titles being issued on the Ethereum blockchain?
And for the content creator, instead of the platform having control over their content, now the people own a piece of the internet.
With the advancement of web technology, we are seeing democratisation in a lot of areas. Beginning with Web 1.0, access was granted to those with an internet connection but what content was put online was controlled by a large authority. Next, with movement to Web 2.0, the people could not only read the content but could create it too, but on centralised platforms.
The future evolution is Web 3.0, which allows people to own a piece of the internet. It will be interesting to see what the future holds.